Monday, January 07, 2008

Jessore Again - Disappointment and Hope
December 15, 2007

I went to the Ministry of Land and talked to the Director of the Survey Department about my porcha issue in Jessore. (Senior officials in Bangladesh are surprisingly accessible to foreigners...) He told me that he could look up the title, but that he needed the plot number. I called the owner of the property, but he refused to give it to me over the phone. He said that he wanted to see me in person again. The Director told me that was probably not a good sign, but always filled with optimism, I decided to go back and talk to him anyway.

I brought my architect with me so that she could look at the land and tell me whether or not it was acceptable. She could also help translate for me, because my Bangla is not good enough to understand all of the details.

We flew back to Jessore and met with the owner. He explained the same thing to Marina as he did to Monjurul - how he didn't want the community to know that he wants to sell, but that he would be willing to part with the land. Apparently his two daughters live in India and he would like to join them there.

Then his wife showed us the boundaries of the land. Nazrul showed me the boundaries when I first went there, but I had never had the owner show me. I was quite surprised to find out that he owned much less of the land than I thought. He only owned a small piece by the river - the rest of the riverbank property he had sold. The plot was much narrower than I was originally led to believe too; he only owned one of the houses, the other two houses were owned by people who would not sell. That, combined with the fact that the price he wanted was about six times what the land is worth, turned me off for good.

After that disappointment, I called a guy named Koli that I had met on my last trip to Jessore with my attorney. Koli's brother is a prominent attorney in town and Koli told me last time I was there that he would look for some land for me. Even though I gave him no notice, Koli took Marina and I around to look at some properties. The land we saw didn't suit my purposes, but Koli seemed like a nice, honest guy so I decided to stay a couple of more days to look at some more property. Marina took the evening fight back; Koli offered to let me stay at his house. At first I was very skeptical, but he told me I would be staying with his family and I trusted him, so I agreed to go home with him.

His family is absolutely fantastic! They are an extended family (four brothers and their families) all living together. His family absolutely epitomizes Bangladeshi hospitality. On just a few hours notice they prepared a room for me. They shared their dinner and even bought me a shalwar kameez because I didn't bring any clothes with me. The teenage daughter whose room I stole gave me a present and we spent a wonderful weekend together. They went out of their way to make me feel welcome. If I can translate that level of service into my resort, I think it will become the most popular place in Asia!

Over the next two days I saw several properties. Two I liked even better than the original property, but both of them had some issues (one was too close to a market and the other was too expensive). Seeing them definitely gave me hope though! Koli now knows what I am looking for and I have confidence that he will be able to find the perfect piece of land for me. It is better if he can pre-screen the properties because that way a) I don't have to keep flying to Jessore and b) the prices start out at Bangladeshi prices, not bideshi prices!

So even though I still don't have my land, I do have hope that something fantastic is just around the corner!

Here are some more pictures I took in Jessore:

Ghur Collection
Wherever we went, we saw these pots hanging off of trees. I asked Marina what they were and she said they were for ghur collection. Ghur is similar to molasses and comes from these palm trees. It is collected like maple syrup and then is boiled into a brown sugar that Bangladeshis use to make sweets. I thought the pots were quite attractive!

Mustard Flowers
It is winter time in Bangladesh now and in many places the countryside is brown like in the U.S. (See the photo of the hay collectors in my last post on Dinajpur.) I had been in Jessore just a couple of weeks before, but when I came back this time, all of the rice had been harvested and many of the fields were barren. Fortunately, however, in the non-rice seasons, the farmers in Jessore plant mustard seed in the fields. Mustard seed blooms into these gorgeous yellow flowers! So instead of brown fields, there are yellow fields! Even the fields that I saw that were brown, had small specks of green poking out from the soil, so I think there are probably only a week or so when the fields are empty.

More Mustard
Close up of a mustard field. The mustard fields are great news for the resort, because even in the wintertime when rice is not generally grown, the fields are beautiful, not brown and barren.

Mustard Field Next to Purple Field
I don't know what the purple flower is, but it looked gorgeous next to the yellow mustard field! This time of year there are also all kinds of fresh vegetables available in the area. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of any of the vegetable gardens...

There is Still Rice
Some people do still plant rice, however. Even in the three days that I was in Jessore, I noticed several rice fields grow seemingly overnight! This is a picture of one of the "new" rice fields.

Another Rice Field
Dinajpur is gorgeous in the spring and summer, but it is actually not very attractive now in the winter. Jessore, however, is gorgeous all year round, so it will always be an attractive place to come!

Koli's Family
This is a photo of Koli's family. His sister-in-law Sara (wife of the attorney brother) is holding his son on the left, his wife Maria is on the right holding her nephew, and Supriya, Sara's teenage daughter is in green in the back.


At Sunday, January 13, 2008 2:33:00 PM, Blogger shamim said...

can i just tell you one thing that i like the way you are writing in your blog.


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